HARARE – Since independence from the British in 1980, the Zimbabwean political landscape has metamorphosed significantly, but for the generality of the population, nothing has improved. If anything, things have registered phenomenal deterioration over the years.
The gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen with the rich getting richer while the poor are getting poorer with each passing day.
For those who had high hopes of improved lives after independence, today’s nightmarish existence has caused untold trauma and suffering in their consciences as they routinely have to question whether what they now have at their disposal is proportionate to their wartime sacrifices.
Perhaps French critic, journalist, and novelist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (November 24, 1808-September 29, 1890) — who is credited for the saying “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (the more it changes, the more it’s the same thing)”, usually translated as “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” which appears in the journal Les Guêpes of January 1849, provides an apt summary of what has transpired in this mineral-rich country in the past 37 or so years.
Our problem as a country probably emanates from the politics of patronage that President Robert Mugabe has nurtured in his Zanu PF party, which has been running the affairs of the State since 1980.
No one criticises Mugabe and manages to go unscathed. The retribution is usually swift and decisive.
Most of his colleagues in the ruling party could see that the ship of State was being steered off-course, courtesy of a combination of factors, chief among them the populist policies adopted at independence that created a desperate population always expecting to receive government hand-outs for survival.
Some of the policies Zanu PF pursued after independence did not promise any long-term benefits.
While massive expansion was recorded in the education sector to bridge the skills gap the war had inadvertently created as thousands of youths joined the war effort, especially in the mid to late 1970s.
Hundreds of new secondary schools were opened up and so did tertiary institutions.
However, there was no commensurate industrial growth to absorb those leaving schools and colleges after the completion of their studies.
It is pertinent to point out that all the achievements of Zanu PF’s earlier years in power have been completely eroded by the illustrious failures of subsequent years.
It is important to point out that what has pushed Zimbabwe into the economic abyss the country finds itself in at the moment has been the perennial fights the Zanu PF leadership has expended its energies on since around 2014.
The expulsion of Joice Mujuru and scores of her supporters from both Zanu PF and government on untested allegations of plotting to unseat Mugabe marked the beginning of the campaign that has killed the prospects of the Zimbabwean economy.
Mujuru was accused of leading a faction within the ruling Zanu PF, an accusation that has also befallen her successor in the vice presidency, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was fired from government only this Monday.
These internal fights and squabbles have cost the economy so badly.
Today, traces of the stability that had been achieved through the inclusive government of 2009-13 have dissipated and cash shortages that characterised Zimbabwean life at the height of the hyperinflationary period in 2008 have returned, while prices of commodities are shooting up against an acute shortage of foreign currency.
Factional fights will not aid development. The common man and woman out there in rural outposts of the country have continued to suffer while those well-placed politically have enjoyed rich pickings from corruption and other vices.
Evidently, the country has witnessed so many changes within the body politic but the lives of the majority of its people have worsened.
Perhaps Zimbabwe is a cursed nation which has to sacrifice so many of its generations for the sake of self-preservation of certain individuals.